Interview Michelle Blevins
Through my work over the past 15 or more years in property restoration, I have appreciated the good work that our friends at Restoration & Remediation Magazine (R&R) do. Through their monthly publication, blog posts and collaboration with industry professionals R&R and their parent company BNP Media produces resources that help bolster the efforts of the restoration community. We recently saw a post from Restoration & Remediation Editor in Chief Michelle Blevins regarding a conference that the BNP Media group will be producing in October of 2018, Preparing to Respond, so we wanted to follow up to learn more about this endeavor. Our thanks to Michelle for taking the time to share with us.
Jon Isaacson (IZ Vents): How long has the R&R team been discussing the concept of an annual conference and what was the catalyst for deciding to take this adventure on?
Michelle Blevins (BNP Media): We have actually be talking about this for a couple years now! However, with so many other conferences and events in the restoration industry, we wanted to be sure we were doing something different and something needed, not just trying to add another event to everyone’s already very busy schedules. Everyone’s time is so valuable! R&R is part of BNP Media, a publishing company based in Troy, Michigan; we have an incredible events staff here that has been putting together top-notch, high quality events for decades. Once we honed in on the focus of the conference, we knew the event planning and marketing team would have our back, and they sure have! We are still a full year out from the event, and are confident it will be a success – and valuable to everyone involved.
What is the target audience for the Preparing to Respond conference?
This is a great question! I want to be sure people understand this is NOT about storm chasing, at all. Disasters, big and small, hit close to home more often than they hit far away. I could tell countless stories of restoration companies caught up in disasters at home - like a restoration company in the Carolinas that ended up being at the center of Hurricane Matthew’s devastation, or hit by a tornado outbreak – like Hattiesburg, Mississippi, or the wildfires happening right now in California. The list goes on and on. Some communities are hit with major spring flooding almost every year! At some point, nearly every restoration company will need to know how to “scale up” to respond to a disaster of some magnitude. This conference will teach them how.
Who are the initial collaborators that are assisting you with putting this together?
As I said in the first answer, BNP Media has a fabulous events department. So on top of myself, our National Sales Manager Darlene Balzano, and Publisher Randy Green, we have a whole events staff working on the day-to-day details of this event to make sure it goes off without a hitch!
For those interested in coming what are a few key things you believe they will come away with that will make the trip a worthwhile investment?
I believe they will come away with three key things:
Obviously our nation and our industry has been hit with a heavy storm season this year and you all have been doing a great job of trying to capture the stories and efforts from our property restoration community. Are there a few positive stories that stick out to you from the most recent hurricane response?
Oh my gosh, when I saw the photos of water rescues from Blake Moak at ServiceMaster by Century in Houston, Texas, all I could think is: that is why this industry ROCKS. Isn’t this an industry full of people with servants hearts? When the water was too high after Hurricane Harvey hit to start the drying out process, Blake and his team used trucks and boats to rescue people stranded in their homes. I know other companies did the same. I’m really looking forward to hearing more success stories from Irma and Harvey once things settle down a bit more. In fact, I hope to have a panel of contractors at Preparing to Respond who are willing to share their successes – and failures – doing CAT work.
Read more from R&R regarding positive stories from catastrophe response - Lessons From Hurricane Matthew
Are there a few cautionary tales that stick out to you as well?
From these recent storms, no. But in just the 2.5 years I’ve been in the industry, I’ve heard several stories from people who have lost everything doing CAT work, or who have thought they were going to lose it all. These are also stories we hope to share at Preparing to Respond to help prepare other contractors for the realities of catastrophe work – like just how long it can take to get paid. There are ways to safeguard yourself and your company, and still do catastrophe work!
Read more from BNP Media regarding Cautionary Tales from catastrophe response - The Big Gamble
What are some of the newer resources from R&R that people may not be aware of.
Jon – you ask the BEST questions! First, we currently have a landing page dedicated to information related to responding to Harvey, Irma, and Maria (HERE). Secondly, we have a super awesome new microsite, if you will, dedicated to odor removal HERE. Seriously, that page has anything and everything you could ever need to know about removing odors of any kind!
Read more from Michelle and the team at Restoration & Remediation magazine through the website links in the interview above, follow them on Twitter @RnRMag or LinkedIn. You can also read our prior interview with Michelle for the LFMC facilities management networking group HERE.
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Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a contractor, author, and host of The DYOJO Podcast. The goal of The DYOJO is to help growth-minded restoration professionals shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. You can watch The DYOJO Podcast on YouTube on Thursdays or listen on your favorite podcast platform.